Page last updated at 12:18 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Carmarthenshire council leader's 'legalise heroin' call


Meryl Gravell said she despaired of the number of deaths in Llanelli attributed to heroin

The leader of Carmarthenshire council has called for drugs to be legalised.

Meryl Gravell OBE said she despaired of the number of deaths in Llanelli - the largest town in the county - attributed to heroin.

She said she wanted a debate over future drugs policy, although said she did not have "all the answers".

Her comments echo calls made previously by the ex-chief constable of North Wales Police, Richard Brunstrom, although he was criticised by some.

Ms Gravell, who is an independent councillor for the village of Trimsaran, made her initial comments in an interview with the Llanelli Star newspaper.

In a statement issued on Friday she said: "My intention was to generate debate and get people talking about the dangers of drugs and problems associated with them.

"I have certainly done that, and I am pleased that my remarks have made people think about what more we should be doing to tackle this problem.

"I want to make it clear that I do not condone using drugs - and I do not think they should be freely available to all.

'Pain and destruction'

"But by having legalised control, it would stop drug dealers profiting, it would stop addicts committing crimes to feed their habits, it would give addicts access to support and services and be safer for them.

"I am not saying I have all the answers, I certainly don't, but something needs to be done, and whether or not people agree with my views I am glad that we are now talking about it and raising awareness of the issue.

"Drugs have destroyed many peoples' lives and torn families apart, if me speaking out can lead to any kind of change which would save one person from that pain and destruction it is worth it."

Mr Brunstrom had called for all drugs to be legalised for many years before retiring as chief constable of North Wales Police last year.

But his views were criticised by some politicians who said his views were "dangerous" and "a more considered" approach was needed.

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